NewsInvestigations

Actions

Reality star's mother searching for answers 7 months after daughter gunned down at Oceanfront

Deshayla Harris.PNG
Posted at 5:00 AM, Nov 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-15 18:27:03-05

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - Extreme violence unfolded at the Oceanfront on March 26, when a reality television star was struck and killed by a stray bullet. Months later, there are still no answers about who killed Deshayla Harris.

The shooting happened the same night Pharrell Williams' cousin, Donovon Lynch, was shot and killed by police at the Oceanfront. Virginia State Police are conducting an investigation into that shooting.

Several other people were injured and four men were arrested, but no one is facing charges for Deshayla's death.

Elisheba Harris, Deshayla's mother, frequently goes to the memorial set up for her daughter near 19th Street and Pacific Avenue. Flowers, pinwheels and candles are set up in the area where 28-year-old Deshayla took her last breath.

“When you realize that she’s never coming back, it’s hard to have closure,” Elisheba said.

A local girl turned reality star, Deshayla appeared on Season 17 of "The Bad Girls Club" with dreams of making it to Hollywood. Her urn is decorated with a tiara on top.

“She was just her own shining star,” Elisheba said. “She made everyone smile all the time.”

Elisheba told us her family has many unanswered questions about what happened that night, saying she’s still fighting for justice, answers and closure.

Gunfire erupted in three separate incidents over the span of several blocks at the Oceanfront the night of March 26, with investigators reportedly finding 50 shell casings at the scene. Police said a total of eight people were shot, including Deshayla, who police said was hit by a stray bullet.

Devon Dorsey, Nyquez Baker, Ahmon Adams and Raswell Steverson were arrested on various charges connected to that night, but none of those charges involve Deshayla's death.

Deshayla's family showed us her autopsy report, which showed she had no drugs or alcohol in her system at the time of her death and stated that a "copper jacketed bullet" was recovered from her brain.

Elisheba said she feels frustrated by what she says is a lack of information about that bullet, where it came from and what kind of gun was used to kill her daughter.

She says police showed her a video after the shooting, but she said she was also told that some of the street cameras weren’t working.

Earl Lewis, the Harris family's spokesperson, also expressed frustration over what he called a lack of transparency. He said the family wants to know who shot Deshayla.

“I mean, come on - you’re going to tell me you can’t figure out where that bullet came from and what kind of gun it came from?” Lewis said.

Police said this past April that surveillance video, eyewitness statements and other evidence suggests that Deshayla was killed by gunfire exchanged between two groups of people. Her death happened minutes before Lynch’s death.

Police said the bullet recovered from Harris is not the same type of ammunition issued to members of the Virginia Beach Police Department.

“It’s hard to sleep and rest at night when you know there is a killer around here, walking around among people, and you don’t even know who it is,” Elisheba said.

She believes that whoever pulled the trigger didn’t mean to kill her daughter.

“We know that it was a mistake. It wasn’t meant for her, so we do know that. I just want them or whoever to own up to it,” Elisheba said.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is offering up to $10,000 for information on the person or people responsible for Harris's death.

“ATF works closely with local, state, and federal partners to disrupt the cycle of criminal acquisition and misuse of firearms,” ATF Washington Field Division Special Agent in Charge Charlie J. Patterson said in an emailed statement. “ATF’s crime gun intelligence in conjunction with our newly formed strike force will continue to leverage investigative resources needed to pursue justice."

Virginia Beach Crime Solvers is also offering a reward of up to $5,000 for leads in Harris's homicide. Anyone with information is asked to call 1-888-LOCK-U-UP (1-888-562-5887).

You can also contact ATF at 888-ATF-TIPS (888-283-8477). Information can also be sent to ATFTips@atf.gov or through ATF’s website.

We asked Virginia State Police if there was a timeline for the report regarding the shooting death of Lynch. A spokesperson said the VSP doesn't have a timeline or time frame on this case, adding that its agents are working their caseloads one day at a time in order to have a complete and accurate investigation.

The spokesperson added that once completed, the investigation will be provided to the Commonwealth's Attorney, who will provide the results to the public and media.

Related: ATF offers up to $10,000 reward for suspect information in Oceanfront shooting death of Deshayla Harris